1. I know this isn’t a CIDU, but the guy doesn’t know about the Twilight Zone episode. He think the alien is here to help mankind, but it’s just here to play tennist. Disappointing.

  2. In terms of tennis, the third panel would be “To Serve to Man“. To match the book’s title, the alien should have rolled him into a sphere, and swatted him over the net with the raquet.

  3. I think it’s especially geezerish if you know that the Knight/Twilight book’s title is simply “To Serve Man,” without the “How.”

  4. The Knight story never really worked for me, since I couldn’t suspend my disbelief at the improbability of our code-cracking team managing to decipher (from a totally nonhuman language) the title of a book, all by itself, before they’d apparently even started trying to translate anything in the text of the book itself. Um, I don’t think linguistics works that way.

  5. Shrug: That always really bugged me too. (Standard complaint about Darmok and Jalad omitted due to repetitiveness.)

  6. Of all the magical, perpetually infallible mechanical marvels that Larry Niven invented for his sci-fi stories, his universal translator was one of the least believable.

  7. Irritating logistics, no-one seems to remember/mention that the “To Serve Man” episode first line featured the man in the space ship asking the computer voice “What time is it?” and the computer voice saying “There is no time in space; please be more specific” so the man says irritatedly “On Earth! What time is it on earth?” and the computer says “It’s twelve noon on Earth”.

    So the ability to translate a book word by word in sequential order is not much worse of a logical offense.

  8. The joke’s supposed to be on us that the punchline is Tennis and not cooking. But I think it would be funnier if the human were happy to play tennis.

    Also the “how” is probably a twist on our expectations. It makes it clearer that we expect the cookbook version.

  9. re ““On Earth! What time is it on earth?” and the computer says “It’s twelve noon on Earth”.

    I also recall a STAR TREK:TNG episode where we were told that “It was Thanksgiving Day back on Earth.” They didn’t explain if it was the U.S. or Canada that had changed its tradition and/or been nuked to nothingness, though.

    But admittedly, your horrible example is magnitudes of horrible worse. Wow.

  10. Shrug, this isn’t all science fiction, of course: Jewish and Muslim astronauts (and perhaps others) need to figure out “Earth time” for various rituals.

  11. @woozy: It could be “noon on earth”… I’d say they use some variant of what we used in the military, Greenwich Mean Time (aka Zulu time). So it would be noon either at Greenwich, or at Starfleet Command in San Francisco, or Spaceman Spiff’s HQ, or whatever is the convention. And if China took over the world, the whole planet might very well be on Beijing time.

  12. There is only a brief moment when it’s midnight on the international dateline when all of Earth is on the same day… At all other times, part of it is one day ahead, or, depending on your view-point, part of it is one day behind.

  13. lazarusjohn

    But none of those scenerios were what was happening in the episode (which was basically the 60s).

    And either way, *of course* there is time in space. There’s no *daylight* upon which to base a time system is the only thing the computer could have meant. And if so, and if daylight is a requirement to there “being time” then it must be local time. Worldwide Greenwich time wouldn’t do.

  14. The Simpsons parodied “To Serve Man”. The book was covered with dust which obscured the title. Lisa and the alien took turns blowing off the dusk and arguing over whether it was a cookbook or not as more and more of the title was revealed: How To Cook Humans. How To Cook For Humans. How To Cook Forty Humans. How To Cook For Forty Humans. etc.

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